So, you found our ridiculously lucrative hobby and now you are hooked. Of course, you will only do the simple stuff like occasionally signing up for credit card bonuses. No manufactured spending or any other shenanigans. And you will only read one, maybe two blogs, right? Right? After all, you have a job, family and a million things to do each day.
Well, the bad news is, most hobbyists start out the same way. But then, before you know it, here they are, hitting several Walmart stores per day and covering up the word “gift” on that Visa card (don’t ask). They barely see their wife or kids because they are so busy MS-ing (a term) enough miles for that fancy trip the family will surely appreciate. It’s not the quantity but quality, right? Well, not according to the song “Cat’s in the cradle” And everything in it rhymes, so it must be true.
“But there were planes to catch and MS bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away”
OK, I added the word “MS.” The good news is, you don’t have to follow the same pattern. And it’s not too late to change things. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. So, here is a list of things I recommend to help keep your miles and points life simple:
1) Keeping track of new credit cards
Cardwatchdog tool. It’s free and extremely user-friendly. You don’t have to insert your credit card numbers or give out any sensitive information. It helps you keep track of your application dates, specifics of the sign-up bonus and more. Thumbs up!
2) Figuring out award mileage requirements via different programs
New (and free) calculator from Travel Codex I am so impressed by this tool! It compares various options for your desired route, so you know which program you should focus on. Then pick a credit card bonus based on that.
Of course, there are many variables when it comes to award tickets. The biggest concern for family: how easy is it to find availability? Still, this tool is an excellent place to start if you don’t have all the charts memorized like I do ( kidding!) I would stick to “Basic” mode if you are a beginner.
3) Figuring out award rates for hotels
HotelHustle Hands down, the best tool for hotel award availability. You plug in the dates, and it shows you various lodging options in the area, plus points’ requirements.
Not as good or accurate as HotelHustle, but it does cover bigger area, so could be helpful when you plan on visiting national parks, do a road trip etc.
4) Cut the fat
No, I’m not talking about actual fat. I suggest you pick a few miles and points blogs that are pertinent to your particular situation in life. If you barely do any manufactured spending, do you really need to read 10 MS blogs? I suggest you follow no more than five sites, and don’t search out new ones. Go ahead, unsubscribe from the ones that don’t add any value to your life. I realize that I might be shooting myself in the foot here because my blog could be on the chopping block (sniff sniff).
Of course, I’m not telling you what you should or shouldn’t read. You will never see me put out lists of blogs that IMO don’t deserve your patronage. That is none of my business. I’m simply encouraging you to be aware of the time this hobby sucks out of your day. Between reading, commenting and obsessive checking of Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any $5 coupons, what does it add up to?
Try to disconnect from miles and points on a regular basis and take up new hobbies, or go back to the old ones. I’m trying to catch up on reading of “Time” and “Wired” magazines and you know what? After reading articles about world issues, miles and points drama doesn’t seem all that important anymore.
Do something fun where you don’t have to think or do math. I wrote awhile back that I joined Zumba dancing class at the local Gold’s gym. And I love it! It’s fun, it’s good for your health and I get to disconnect from all the nonsense in this industry.
Speaking of Zumba, check out this YouTube video of dancing routine that’s identical to what we do at the gym. This couple films themselves around the world and I dare you not to smile when you watch them! Unfortunately, I’m not as good as these guys. Not yet.
P.S. If you have a few minutes, check out my interview on Intentional Travelers blog.
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